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Nicholas of Autrecourt (c.1300–69)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-B082-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Unlike most of his late medieval contemporaries, Nicholas of Autrecourt did not subscribe to Aristotelianism. Instead, he radically challenged the foundations of Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology by asking two questions: first, how are we supposed to explain the basic constituents of the world, given that the Aristotelian categories are mere theoretical constructions and not immediately perceivable? Second, what can we know with absolute certitude, given that sense perception – the starting point in Aristotelian epistemology – is fallible and unreliable? Focusing on these two questions, Nicholas elaborated an atomistic metaphysics and defended an epistemology that emphasizes knowledge of a logical principle (the principle of non-contradiction), dismissing all knowledge based on inductive reasoning as uncertain.

Citing this article:
Perler, Dominik. Nicholas of Autrecourt (c.1300–69), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-B082-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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